Family Advocacy Scheme: Legal Aid Costs


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What is the Family Advocacy Scheme?


The Family Advocacy Scheme (FAS) in England and Wales is a framework designed to remunerate solicitors and barristers who represent clients in mainstream family and public law cases in Courts. This scheme is part of the Legal Aid system, which provides funding for legal representation for those who cannot afford it, covering various types of family law matters.

Under the FAS, legal professionals are paid according to a set of fixed fees for their work in family court proceedings.

The scheme covers a wide array of family law issues, including:

  • Child arrangement orders, addressing custody and contact disputes,
  • Divorce and separation proceedings,
  • Cases involving domestic abuse,
  • Child protection and care orders,
  • Financial disputes stemming from family breakdowns.

This scheme also covers advocacy in Public Law and Adoption proceedings. However, the scheme excludes specific instances, such as the following:

  • Child abduction
  • Appeals against final orders
  • Court of Appeal or Supreme Court advocacy
  • Inheritance Act cases
  • TOLATA cases
  • Specific representation of children
  • Forced marriage orders
  • Nullity cases
  • Wardship
  • Parental orders under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.
  • Advocacy by Queen’s Counsel and very high cost cases managed under a separate contract are also excluded.

The Family Advocacy Scheme (FAS) is designed to remunerate for advocacy on a time-spent basis rather than per appearance, with different rates for various hearing types and additional payments for some tasks.

The scheme includes payment for preparation as part of the hearing unit fees, applicable to both in-house and self-employed advocates. For employed advocates, this is budget-neutral under the solicitor representation fund. It covers interim applications, with advocacy encompassing travel, waiting, and court time plus preparation.

The FAS operates nationally with uniform fees, not affected by the advocate’s location or court, excluding panel uplifts but allowing for bolt-ons for complexity. High Court work receives a 20% increase over County Court fees.

The scheme is divided into five categories: care and supervision, other public law, private law children, finance, and domestic abuse, with distinct fees for each.

Fees are consistent regardless of the parties represented, and hearings are billed under two units based on duration, with a unique payment structure for extended hearings.

Unit 1 covers all interim hearings up to and including 1 hour in length, with Unit 2 covering all hearings up to 2.5 hours.  If a hearing exceeds 2.5 hours, multiple Unit 2s can be claimed.

In addition, Final Hearings attract a single day rate (rather than based on number of hours), and in public law, FAS fees are recoverable for attendance upon Court-ordered advocates meetings.

Travel within a 25-mile radius is included in the fee, with travel costs reimbursable. Bolt-ons are claimable for interim and final hearings, and an early resolution fee exists for finance cases settling early.

Bolt-ons account for aspects of the litigation such as having to represent a client with difficulties in understanding, or for cross-examining an expert witness at a hearing.

There are also additional fees recoverable dependant upon the size of the Court bundle utilised, albeit these are usually limited to a maximum of 1 interim hearing bundle fee (2 in public law), and 1 final hearing bundle fee.

When a case aspect concludes, costs for that part can be claimed, with payments on account for ongoing aspects or exceptional circumstances. Only one final hearing fee is claimable per case aspect, with specific rules against combining or duplicating hearing units.

How can ARC Costs Assist?

ARC Costs often assist legally aided parties and their Solicitors recover their costs from the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). 

We regularly provide assistance to law firms in processing claims which fall under the Family Advocacy Scheme, as well as exceptional costs claims and Very High Costs Cases (VHCCs).

We also assist legally aided law firms in processing Payments on Account (POAs) and in processing their legal costs claims via CCMS, up to the point of LAA assessment.

Where an inter-partes costs order has been made due to unreasonable behaviour, as independent costs experts we can assist either of the Receiving or Paying Parties to maximise/minimise the recovery of legal costs respectively.

We often assist parties in preparing the relevant costing instruments, such as a Bill of Costs, as well as in negotiation of the same, and conducting of detailed assessment proceedings.

To find out more about how our expert Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers can help you, please contact us on 01204 397302 or email us on


4 Bark Street East, Bolton, BL1 2BQ

01204 397302

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